|Gratis Visas for 100 Umrah Pilgrims|
|Tuesday, 08 September 2009|
At the request of Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Saudi Arabian Embassy has issued free visas to 100 Sri Lankan Muslims proceeding on Umrah pilgrimage during the month of Ramazan for the first time.Earlier this month, several Muslim political leaders and organizations had drawn the attention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to a change in the policy of the Saudi Arabian authorities, which resulted in cutting down the number of visas issued for prospective Umrah pilgrims from all over the world. In the past Saudi Arabia Authorities have issued visas to around 2000 applicants from Sri Lanka during the month of Ramazan, this time it had reduced to 1400 only.
The Foreign Minister took up this matter with Saudi authorities through diplomatic channels. He also followed it up with representations to His Excellency Jammaz, Saudi Ambassador in Colombo. He emphasized to them the religious significance of Umrah for Muslims in the holly month of Ramazan and requested some flexibility in the case of Sri Lankan applicants.
Umrah, which is known as a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, is an Islamic concept derived from the practices of Prophet Mumammad and from the teachings of Islam. It is an activity, which involves a physical journey from one’s place of residence to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia, undertaken in an aura of reverence to Allah and in furtherance of one’s spirituality. It comes only next to the annual pilgrimage called the Hajj. Unlike the Hajj which is compulsory for Muslims who could afford the means to perform it, Umrah is only optional. But undertaking Umrah by Muslims who could afford it is acknowledged within the Islamic world as an activity of high merit.
It is a meritorious act because Muslims from all over the world do it with a sense of awe and in manifestation of loyalty to the Creator. For some Muslims, it presents a rare opportunity of paying visit to the holly sites where the Islamic civilization originated. Most consider it a life time opportunity to perform Umrah.
Consequently, the Foreign Minister informed the concerned organizers of Umrah pilgrimage from Sri Lanka to come up with a list of first time applicants, from which a short list of deserving applicants could be finalized and submitted to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia with his recommendation.
Last Saturday, 5th September 2009, being the last day for issuance of visas by Saudi Authorities, the Minister personally went through the list and made a selection of first time applicants counting up to 100 from among prospective Umrah pilgrims from the Muslim Community.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 September 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|